December 13, 2021

All Aboard: Fostering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Nautilus Labs

Lindsey O’Sullivan, Director of People Operations at Nautilus, talks to Dominique Burrell-Paige, Senior Consultant at DiverseCity about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

To solve a global problem, we need a global team with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Many industries, particularly maritime, are struggling to create more diverse and inclusive work environments. At Nautilus, we strongly believe that each and every one should be provided with the same opportunities to learn and grow. It’s important to us to foster and embrace a culture of inclusivity, belonging, collaboration, and respect among our teams. Each team member reinforces our TIDE values (thoughtful – inclusive – direct – empathetic) every day to create a welcoming workplace.

Today, I am sitting down with Dominique, Sr. Consultant from our partner organization, DiverseCity, to discuss the challenges of diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces across industries, and how we can foster a culture of DEI.

Lindsey: Dominique, thank you for joining me – we’re really excited to discuss DEI with you. Before we dive into some of our questions, how do you define diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Dominique: Hi, thanks for having us and asking this! I like that you got straight to the point. For me, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can be defined as encompassing the individualistic intersectionalities of everyone. You know, as humans we embody a variety of things; We all represent different ethnicities, we all listen to different music, eat different foods, have different gender identities, so on and so forth. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goes beyond the step of acknowledging those different intersectionalities, it embraces, treats fairly, and creates an environment of belongingness that’s needed to propel the lives of black and brown people.

Lindsey: Thank you, Dominique. We see a lack of diversity in the maritime industry and have noticed that this is the case in other industries as well. Why are some industries struggling with diversity more than others?

Dominique: Wow, this is a great question. There’s a ton of reasons why industries are struggling with diversity, but I’d say the main two involve access and awareness. People who embody different intersectionalities are not made aware of the opportunities within some industries. Those same individuals don’t have access to those industries whether it’s because of their socioeconomic status, educational background (or lack of), having a criminal background or, being abled body, thus limiting their opportunities. To fix this, industries must fix leaky pipelines and address head-on why underrepresented groups are less likely to pursue careers in their field and look for ways to address “pipeline” issues to combat not having diversity.

Lindsey: That makes a lot of sense and we’ve seen similar issues in our industry. What do you propose as ways out of this situation? How can non-diverse industries become more diverse?

Dominique: Oh, that’s easy. Pursue relationships with underserved groups. Though there are a variety of steps leaders can take, creating solid partnerships with underserved groups is the most important because the relationships can drive the success or failure of other steps. Companies can connect and partner with organizations like Jopwell and HBCU Connect to reach disadvantaged black and brown communities.

Lindsey: Do you feel like companies don’t open up their pipeline enough and really focus on the actual experiences they require – instead of wish – from candidates?

Dominique: Mm, this is a tricky one. In all honesty, I believe companies hyper focus on the actual experiences they require from candidates, which results in low diversity. Typically, during a “normal” hiring process (and I utilized that term loosely), you have members of an organization that represent Human Resources, maybe the department head that’s hiring, and possibly someone on the senior-level. Let’s be honest, there’s going to be some level of affinity bias that may occur, and it does. Companies tend to have tunnel vision when hiring and this can’t be the case If you’re looking to create and foster an inclusive culture. Companies need to loosen up the reins, become aware of their biases, and expand their view of what the “perfect” candidate looks like and take into consideration attributes that can either be attained or enhanced if hired.

Lindsey: Ocean shipping connects every part of the planet, enabling global trade. An industry could not be more global than maritime. What challenges do companies face that have offices in multiple countries, each with their own relative norms for DEI?

Dominique: Wow! You’re really hitting the nail on the head with these questions. Instead of speaking to every challenge, I’ll tell you what I believe are the top two challenges companies face with having offices in multiple countries. The first involves having a sense of “belonging” – at times, companies’ culture often gets watered down as they open more offices; because of this, the culture and foundation that an organization was originally built on becomes unstable across its other offices. The second challenge involves cultural incompetence and/or a lack of cultural intelligence and understanding. I know over the past few years, there’s been a huge push towards acknowledging and embodying Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in the workplace, but Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is needed as well. Cultural intelligence can be defined as the capability to relate and work effectively across cultures, bearing similarity to the term cultural agility. Leaders who develop and sustain Cultural Intelligence can make a huge difference in terms of DEI from an organizational and business context.

Lindsey: Where do you see DEI in work cultures in 10 years?

Dominique: Still evolving. While we’ve made enormous strides over the course of 2 years (in light of the George Floyd killing), there’s still a lot of room for organizations to evolve their current practice and develop inclusive work behaviors, that continue being inclusive even in the absence of key players. To do this, Organizations will need to operate from an equity lens that addresses systemic racism and accounts for Accessibility and Belonging, in addition to, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Lindsey: Dominique, thank you so much for your insights. At Nautilus, we’re tackling a global problem, and couldn’t do it without our global team – and their diverse backgrounds. We understand the impact of diversity in not only enhancing our lives but our overall performance. The importance does not end here and we’ll continue working towards a more inclusive culture at Nautilus. We’re always looking for driven individuals that want to make an impact on the Triple Bottom Line of our clients. Learn more about our open positions!

ICYMI: This year once again, Nautilus is donating to ISWAN (International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network) to helps seafarers and their family members in critical times. Join us in doing good and visit ISWAN and leave a donation or support the organization that fights for what matters to you: Donate now.

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